WORCESTER, Mass. - It was a difficult Thursday morning for some people amid widespread cellular outages affecting AT&T, Verizon and other carriers.

What You Need To Know

  • Widespread cellular outages affected AT&T and other carriers on Thursday, but has since been restored

  • Travelers had a difficult time navigating their route without GPS

  • In a statement, AT&T apologized to customers and said it's working to ensure it doesn't happen again

  • The FCC is also investigating the outage

Whether you were heading out on a road trip and suddenly couldn’t use your phone’s navigation system or you needed to make some work calls, experts said this outage was an eye-opener.

Alex Wyglinski, an internationally recognized expert in wireless communications at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said it highlighted a growing dependency we’ve had on good reception since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“What happened this morning kind of highlighted, like, ‘Oh, dear, I didn't I didn't realize that we're that dependent on it,'” Wyglinski said. “But yeah, no, we're very much a very connected society.”

Danielle Gladu woke up Thursday with plans to travel from Maine to Connecticut, and said her long commute without cell phone service felt "a little post-apocalyptic."

“I had no cell phone service, I couldn’t do a text message, my WiFi wasn’t even working," Gladu said. "And I had a place to be so I’ve made this whole trip so far without cell phone service and it just came on like five minutes ago.”

As Gladu put it, being a "true Mainer" helped prepare her for the moment - she’s used to long stretches of road without any service.

“I was thinking about all the business people who rely on cell phone service for their day-to-day, so I was thinking about them," she said. "But it was nice and quiet and I was able to connect with everybody else."

The widespread impacts of just a short period of a few hours without cell service also left quite an impression on Wyglinski, but he said it isn’t necessarily a warning sign that we’re too reliant on being connected. Rather, he said it confirms investments being made to strengthen service are well worth it.

“It'll be a few days before we find out exactly what's going on, but every day these networks become more and more reliable because we have more and more people working on them,” Wyglinski said. “There's huge investments being made, and this is a critical technology. Everybody's seeing it.”

AT&T said in a statement that all service has since been restored. The company apologized to customers, adding that they are taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future. The FCC is also investigating the outage.